It's been seven weeks since I bottled this Black Rock Pale Ale and I'm loving it. This was a "by the book" kit/extract brew without so much as a hop pellet added and it's delicious.

There's a slight haze to the beer, but minimal sediment in the bottles (racking and finings were used).

In the time since I made this I've invested heavily in equipment and learning, and I'm starting to think that's all a waste. If I can continue to make beer like this, I'll be a happy man. The only thing I'd like to add is maybe some dry hops for some taste variation. I'm sure a 20-30g of Galaxy a few days before bottling wouldn't hurt.

Judgey, much

In the meantime, I'm going to try and judge this beer using the 20-point scale from Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Given that I'll be comparing it to other beers I'm going to make, I figure there's no need to be overly impartial as the whole purpose is to make beer I like drinking.

So, scoring will be based on:

  • Appearance (0-3pts)
  • Aroma (0-4pts)
  • Taste (0-10pts)
    Hop/malt balance (4)
    Aftertaste (3)
    Mouthfeel (3)
  • Overall Impression (1-3pts)

The scoring guide suggests 12-14pts is "Good"; 15-17pts is "Very Good"; and 18-20pts is "Excellent", so let's see.

Appearance

Okay, so the bottle I've chosen to judge isn't the best of the bunch. It didn't have any head to speak of when I poured it. There's not much apparent carbonation (although it appears in the mouth).

The colour is good, somewhere between "Pale Amber" and "Medium Amber" (~10 SRM) according to the scale on the inside front cover of the book "How to Brew" by John J. Palmer.

There is a little bit of haze.

Score: 1.5/3

Aroma

The beer's aroma is not particularly strong. I can pick up some of the malty sweetness, but otherwise, it just smells like beer. I need to work on my nose, clearly.

Having said that, there are absolutely no hint of anything nasty. It smells fresh and drinkable, if nothing else.

Score: 2/4

Taste

Hop/malt balance

I think this beer is well balanced. You can taste the malt and hops, but they're both quite subtle, which I think means they're balanced - neither one is overpowering the other.

Score: 3/4

Aftertaste

The aftertaste is pretty clean. This particular bottle has a very slight yeasty aftertaste, but I think that's because I poured up the sediment (didn't want to waste any).

There's certainly no linger nastiness, and as Charlie Papazian says, it does "encourage you to have another". I've had a couple of litres of this in one sitting and never thought I wouldn't drink it again.

Score: 2/3

Mouthfeel

This is on the lighter side, but that suits my taste. The carbonation feels good to me. I prefer a bit of fizz in my beers, and, despite the lack of head, this does have hidden bubbles. A little bit of a shake can show that.

You can see that the faux-head is pretty creamy (small bubbles), too - I'm sure that's significant, but I don't know why, yet.

But any head is short lived, and the remaining beer definitely tastes much flatter - I wont do that again!

Score: 1.5/3

Overall Impression

I like drinking this beer. It's very easy to drink, tastes good, virtually no aftertaste, has a balanced flavour, and a bit of fizz. The bubbles might be considered "short-lived", but as my beers don't tend to stick around too long, it's not a major problem for me.

I don't want to over-score this, because I know there are better beers out there, and I aspire to brew some myself. But, I do like drinking this beer, so I'm gonna score this...

Score: 2/3

Total score: 12/20, "Good"

That probably means it's time to celebrate...with another :)